Kayode Fayemi, Ekiti state’s governor, has called for the enactment of appropriate states and federal legislative frameworks and strategies that would help to regulate incessant cases of farmer-herder conflicts and the attendant loss of lives and properties in the country.
Fayemi made his advocacy on Thursday while delivering a paper titled “Farmer-Herders Conflicts in Nigeria: Implications for National Security” at the National Institute for Security Studies (NISS) executive management course in Abuja.
According to him, fatalities recorded from the farmer-herder clashes outnumber those of the devastating insurgency in the North East and has led to the loss of more lives in Nigeria than in the rest of West Africa.
He added that Nigeria also loses nothing less than $14 billion to the lingering farmer-herdsmen conflicts annually.
In a bid to proffer solutions to the lingering crisis, Fayemi canvassed for the need of effective and strategic communications of government policies on this and other national issues in order to ensure that the right messaging reach the citizenry and save the country from avoidable crises.
Fayemi further stated that political leaders must ensure that socio-cultural and political sensitivities are borne in mind while communicating policies with the citizenry in order to avoid the risk of leaving those policies to faulty interpretations and susceptible to politicization.
He stated that the scale of the challenge required that government move to unpack what has become a major threat to peaceful coexistence and food security in the country.
Fayemi who advocated for state and federal laws that would foster peaceful coexistence in spite of the nation’s diversity stated that such legislations on regulating the conduct of farmers and herders must have a human face and must help in harnessing the country’s economic and socio-cultural potentials.
This is also in addition to ensuring that law breakers do not escape punishment, he said.
Fayemi at the lecture which was attended by participants drawn from the security and para military agencies attending the Executive Intelligence Management Course at the institute, posited that beyond Nigeria, farmers-herders conflict had become a threat to sub-regional and continental peace and stability, in terms of devastating effects including loss of lives, livelihoods and impact on the economy.
Other devastating effects, according to him include banditry, cattle rustling, proliferation of small arms and light weapons as well as extreme violence.
He however said political leaders and policy makers have not done well in putting across the right messaging on the herder-farmer crisis.
He said: “As political and policymakers, we must be humble enough to admit that the messaging around the farmer-herder crisis, in terms of being mindful of sensitivities and the use of polarizing terminologies and concepts leaves room for improvement.
“From the evolution of the discourse on major issues such as the Anti-grazing laws which have been passed into law in Ekiti, Benue and Taraba States, to colonies, the Ruga settlement phenomenon, the ranching options, we have not done enough to properly manage the various narratives or interpretations that emerged from this problem.”